The viral ‘hobby’ that’s leaving you breathless

The viral ‘hobby’ that’s leaving you breathless

She never imagined that he would feel so relaxed in water up to his neck. You’re in a municipal pool, but it looks like you’ve been hanging out with Jacques Cousteau: neoprene, XXL fins, and the nerves of an explorer. Not that you went looking for Nemo. The session begins like an episode of “The Crimes” – all of it floating upside down. These people – you discover immediately – are not the type to drown in a glass of water, no. Here’s who can hold their breath for about 7 minutes. After spending an hour with them, you’ll end up more confident than Julio Iglesias with an underwater paternity test.


For years, Google has been expanding it as a “fashion sport”. It has become a popular hobby among celebrities and influencers: hashtag #apnea. The lung-positioning corpse between whales and sharks. It appears on Instagram as well as on TV (El desafío) or in the top 10 movies on Netflix (La inspiración más profunda).

It’s not just holding your breath. “It resets your head,” Oriol assures. “You leave training mentally fresh.”

Oriol Navarro is the one who makes you train every week without rest. There are no metaphors in his autobiography. Your brand? 6 minutes and 57 seconds with one puff of air. He was Spain’s runner-up in 2013. If it had been his turn to win the EuroMillion prize, he would have built a 60-metre-deep pool. He was for five years president of the Cavaldemar Association, a non-profit association with 46 years of underwater history. There are 110 members. It is the only freediving club that regularly trains in a swimming pool in Barcelona. Tuesdays and Thursdays at CEM La Verneda (except July and August). They run courses and boat trips from the Forum throughout the year.

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A Guinness World Record has emerged from this club. One member, Alex Segura – a three-time world champion – was out of breath for 24 minutes and 3 seconds! It is not considered a sign of apnea because you previously inhaled 100% oxygen (21% air).

“People get surprises,” Oriol emphasizes. “I found myself in introductory freediving courses lasting up to 5 minutes.” Even novice journalists, like the one writing these lines, endured the first time 4 minutes and 40 minutes.

There are members of all levels, of all ages. Professional freedivers, experienced fishermen and beginners with a fearless face. From doctors to politicians. The atmosphere is one of frank confidence. Not breathing unites many. It doesn’t matter if you hold out for seven minutes or two. The important thing – and what they encourage – is to create a community. “Share the training and do it safely,” Oriol points out. You’ll leave the training more relaxed than if you went on holiday with Victoria Frederica.

All the partners echo it: “It’s therapeutic.” It teaches you “relativity.” “You achieve things you never thought would be within your reach,” says Nico. “And that gives you the mental strength to deal with the problems in your life.” Nico Fignon arrives at 6:55.


“Apnea has changed a lot,” recalls one of the world’s leading lights: Esteban Torano. He is still Cavalldemar’s partner at 69. He jumped into the pool 24 years ago. “Nobody in Spain knew anything about apnea.”

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When Katie started working at the club in 2015, there were no women who could even complete the podium. Katie Kleinwachter is the captain of the Catalan team. Now, she smiles, women “represent half of the total number of participants.” At the recent Spanish championship, five-time champion Isabel Sánchez Arran set a new record: 7 minutes and 24 seconds. Germany’s Heike Schwerdtner broke the standing women’s world record on Thursday: 9 minutes and 7.

There is more and more underwater activity in Barcelona. Two new clubs will open this year. In April, vertical freediving was opened at the Forum. In August or September, the Bcn Apnea Center will open in Port Olímpic. “We will try to make it social,” says one of the partners, world runner-up Miguel Lozano.

Underwater meditation

He left Jared Leto, Bisbal, and Pablo Muto breathless. For years, Miguel Lozano has been teaching how to manage emotions through apnea, and how to make decisions under pressure. He does training and team-building conferences. He is hired by managers, artists, and elite athletes. “For me, apnea is a kind of underwater meditation,” he says. He details it in his first book, A-122 Meters: The Healing Power of Apnea (Alienta). To stop breathing, you first have to learn to breathe.

“12 people have set foot on the moon – compare on their website -. Only in 10 have we descended to 120 metres.” Miguel Lozano is the fifth deepest person in the world (in freediving): he reached a depth of 122 metres, without even fins. This is according to official records. Training reached 126. He has been ranked second in the world twice. You can go without breathing for 8 minutes and 23 seconds. He makes himself irrelevant. “The secret of a freediver,” he laughs, “is to have a small mind that consumes little.”

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“Whoever wants to train has additional options,” assures Luis Milos. He knows very well what is being cooked there: he was a chef in Barcelona. He holds the Catalan freediving record (60 metres). And it was he who opened the new vertical freediving centre in April. It offers courses and trips to the sea five days a week from the forum.

La Llagosta trains in the pool every week at Club Apnea Barcelona. She has been working for 11 years. There are 100 members from 20 countries, explains Juanma Moliga. They organize trips to the sea from Barceloneta, the Forum, the port of Badalona and the Costa Brava.

La Caretta has been present in L’Estartit since 2015. Among the subsidiaries, partners and federations, there will be about 80 companies, Mara Torrealba estimates. They also organize courses and trips to the Montgreux Nature Park, the Medes Islands and Paix Terre.

“Breathing is the most important thing for a human being and the most forgotten thing,” the star laments. She has been suffering from apnea for a year and a half and has already gone 5 minutes and 15 minutes. “We don’t know the basic process of life.”

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